Film Review: Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

SYNOPSIS:

When filmy spores fall from space and take root in San Francisco, the city is beautifully transformed by spectacular and exotic flowers. But these lovely extraterrestrial blossoms have gruesome plans for their earthly admirers: to slowly clone their bodies and then dispose of the originals! “A first-rate suspense thriller” (Newsday), this sci-fi adventure is a “chilling” (Leonard Maltin), “dazzling” (The New York Times) and “stunning” (Cosmopolitan) thrill ride that will send your pulse rate soaring! From a brilliant screenplay by Academy Award® nominee* W.D. Richter, filmmaker Philip Kaufman directs an all-star cast that includes Donald Sutherland, Jeff Goldblum, Brooke Adams and Leonard Nimoy. With its mesmerizing style and awe-inspiring special effects, Invasion of the Body Snatchers is “a classic of the genre” (New York Post) a terrifying tale that “literally chills the blood”

REVIEW:

Now arriving on blu-ray, this classic sci fic horror feature is ready for a new viewing for those who forgot what the cold chilling horror sci-fi films of the 70’s were like. Even today as I rewatch this classic that I haven’t seen in over 20 years, I can feel the creepy nature of it sinking in with its droning score, quiet empty soundless moments and the cinematic qualities of how to introduce a sense of paranoia in viewing audiences way before something actually happens. Yes, a great movie that features some of Donald Sutherland’s  best work. As we open upon dew-filled leaves in a gray city that seem to suggest you look a little closer, an organism begins to emerge only so slightly to suggest that a change is taking place. Matthew Bennell (Donald Sutherland) is a health inspector who takes his work serious. Elizabeth Driscoll (Brooke Adams) is his co-worker who we already get is probably more overworked than she wants to be. As Matthew goes about his routine of finding needle in a haystacks with restaurants who want to cover up unsanitary practices, we also find that his job doesn’t sit well very well liked when it comes to local restaurants.

Elizabeth immediately begins to suspect something is not right when she wakes up to her husband acting strange. An emotional discord and a change of attitude suggests something bigger than just a “mood”. She begins to witness him meeting with strangers and exchanging information. This paranoia begins to spread like wildfire as several citizens notice a bit of the same. Elizabeth tries to cope and understand but the city is quickly becoming a land full of people she doesn’t recognize any more. Her boss thinks its just a psychology issue who is backed by the diagnosis of a local expert. Though the frequency for strange incidents seems to be ramping up in an almost conspiracy type way. In this transition we are introduced to a younger Jeff Goldblum as Jack Bellicec and a much more personable non Spock playing Leonard Nimoy. They also begin to suspect something which is confirmed when a growing pod body is discovered. Veronica Cartwright plays the role of Nancy Bellicec who brings a nice balance of tension to the issues at hand. As we further ourselves into the story, we learn of alien pods, organisms that want to take over the world and do so by duplicating bodies and discarding the old. In essence, the alien take over is a metaphoric look at building a better world free of anxiety but at the cost of creating an emotionless race of human hybrids that seem to lack life and live only to produce and maintain order.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers directed by Philip Kaufman, is one of those classics that was remade from an earlier black and white version (1956) that we expect nowadays to end up on the 21st century line of remakes. It has all the classic cinema techniques that really made these films work back in the day. Sci fi was big back then, and rightly so was often mixed in with horror elements with great success. Invasion has moments within that are so memorable they stay with me even till this day. That’s a sure sign of lasting film experiences. The level of paranoia that the film suggest still today is relevant and may be even more so. I’m sure if we saw pods laying around we would question it a bit more, but the  idea of a alien take over is always in our minds. This release on blu-ray packs in a standard DVD version and a load of extras left over from some of the documentaries made on the film. Do yourself a favor and give it a go if you haven’t for awhile or haven’t at all. It’s combines fantastic acting, great special effects and a knack for just plain creeping you out. Like “War of the Worlds”, this film made a major contribution to the science fiction genre and rightly so.

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